Tag Archives: myths

Debunking Common Myths About Women’s Health

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert and tagged on by .

For most of recorded history, women’s health has been the subject of countless misconceptions and harmful misinformation. Even the healthcare industry spent precious years mystified about many aspects of women’s health – and too many haven’t been forthcoming about the truth. For that reason, even now, as we enter a digital age ripe with information and staffed by more women healthcare providers than ever before, it can be difficult to know who to trust and where to turn when you need answers to your biggest questions.

To help, Arizona Gynecology Consultants is prepared to debunk several common myths and misconceptions about women’s health. Read on for the truth, as well as some helpful advice when you need answers.

Myth: Penetrative Sex on Your Period Is Bad for You

Simply talking about periods can be hard enough for women. To make matters worse, the many misconceptions about periods mean it’s unsurprising that discussions about period sex for women are viewed as taboo. Even religious texts frequently label a woman as “unclean” during her period.

The truth is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy about having sex on your period. Just keep in mind that not everyone will be comfortable with doing so, and you should inform your partner first. Depending on what a period looks like for you, it will likely be a little messier than normal, but as long as all involved are comfortable with it, you can have penetrative sex during your period.

Myth: Douching Helps To Clean Your Vagina

Women’s cleanliness myths extend further than period misconceptions. For centuries, the vagina has been regulated in a way that suggests that it is dirty when in reality, it is nothing of the sort. The great thing about the vagina is that as long as it’s healthy, it’s incredibly effective at self-cleaning. Unfortunately, society has long held the misconception that douching is the way to achieve a clean, healthy vagina.

The truth is that douching can actually be unhealthy for your vagina and may expose the body to health risks and vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and excessive yeast growth. Douching strips the vagina of its protective bacteria, leaving it exposed to the conditions listed above. You don’t need to clean inside the vagina; instead, just gently cleanse the outside of your body with warm water and gentle, unscented soap.

Myth: You Can’t Meet With Your OBGYN on Your Period

Meeting with you OBGYN

Many women believe they can’t keep an OBGYN appointment if their period arrives early or stays beyond its original schedule. This isn’t necessarily true.

The truth is that it’s fairly important to keep any appointments you have scheduled with your OBGYN – and whether you keep one on your period is dependent on a few factors. Consider your comfort level first, then think about where you are in your menstrual cycle. If your flow is heavy, it might not be viable to have a Pap smear performed, but if you’re on the final day of your period and your flow is light, there should be no reason to feel obligated to cancel your appointment. If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact your doctor and see what their recommendations are based on your specific needs.

Myth: You Need to Have a Pap Smear Every Year

For a long time, Pap smears were recommended every year for women over the age of 21. However, this is no longer the automatic recommendation.

The truth is that how often you need a Pap smear is based on your own health history. If you’re at risk for cervical cancer or you’ve had HPV, it may be recommended that you have a Pap smear more often. Keep in mind that having a Pap according to your doctor’s recommendations can help prevent the development or advancement of cancer.

Myth: I Don’t Have Symptoms, So I Don’t Have an STI

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections are notoriously contagious, and having sex just one time, with or without protection, can leave you with an unwelcome infection. While you may have read all about the unfortunate symptoms of STIs back in sex ed, it’s important to know the truth behind the most common of them.

The truth is that just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean that you don’t have an STI. Many STIs are asymptomatic, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV, which are all commonly present without the person experiencing any symptoms. Chlamydia, in particular, only creates symptoms in 10% or fewer male carriers; for women, the number is a little more varied, between 5 and 30%. That’s why chlamydia is often called a silent infection.

It’s incredibly important that you’re honest with your OBGYN so that they can determine what’s best for your health. Keep in mind that your doctor may not always test for STIs when they do your regular Pap smear. That’s why it’s so vital to discuss any concerns and your sexual history so that you can determine the best course of action together.

Myth: My OBGYN/Healthcare Provider Will Judge Me

Since the topic of being honest with your provider has come up, it’s important to recognize that many women are hesitant to seek healthcare or provide full details of their concerns for fear of being judged. We wish that bias didn’t exist, but it is still a reality for some to believe that their OBGYN is silently judging them.

The truth is that your healthcare team is here to help you, and regardless of your question or concern, we can assist you. Our goal in debunking women’s health myths is to ensure more people get the help they need, regardless of their circumstances. That only comes with honesty, compassion, and understanding on the part of both doctor and patient.

Myth: Extreme PMS Symptoms are Normal

PMS has often been the butt of jokes, but it is a reality for many people who experience periods. Symptoms like mood swings, food cravings, headaches, fatigue, and breast tenderness are common and typical of PMS.

The truth behind more extreme PMS is that you may be experiencing PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Sufferers of PMDD experience more intense mood swings, painful breast tenderness, and debilitating fatigue, in addition to the other symptoms. They may also experience depression and anxiety. If these symptoms become too difficult to manage on your own, your healthcare provider can help answer questions and offer treatment options that may help you.

Myth: Wearing a Bra Can Cause Breast Cancer

Can wearing a bra cause Breast Cancer?

For many years, the myth linking breast cancer and bras has been perpetuated. The misconception was linked to a suggestion that wearing a bra, specifically an underwire bra, restricted the lymph fluid of the breasts, causing cancer. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is that there is no clinical link between wearing bras and cancer. Whether you wear a bra on a regular basis or not, it is important that women 40 and older have regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer. While breast self-examination is important, mammograms can reveal many otherwise silent breast cancers.

Myth: Feeling Severely Depressed After Giving Birth Is Normal

We’re not here to tell you it’s wrong to feel the “baby blues” after delivery. In fact, up to 20% of women may experience mild postpartum depression, and it’s much more common than people realize.

The truth, though, is that while a little bit of the baby blues post-delivery is incredibly common, postpartum depression can be serious. Feelings of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, insomnia, restlessness, mood swings, and panic attacks are just some of the common signs of postpartum depression. If your post-birth symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, you should seek advice from your healthcare provider. Postpartum depression is manageable and treatable.

Myth: You Cannot Get Pregnant After You Start Menopause

Pregnancy after Menopause

Menopause is a signal that you’re at the end of your childbearing years. It coincides with the waning of your menstrual cycle and the fluctuation of many hormones in the body. However, just because you’ve begun menopause doesn’t mean that you cannot get pregnant.

The truth is that unless you start menopause and do not experience a menstrual cycle for twelve consecutive months, you may still be fertile. If you’re simply irregular or start and stop your periods, you may still be able to get pregnant. If you’re having sex and want to prevent pregnancy, keep taking your birth control or use another contraceptive.

Myth: I Only Need an OBGYN for Pregnancy

Many people may think that the only reason they need to see an OBGYN is because they’re pregnant or have a pressing gynecological concern, such as STIs. However, regular visits are important to maintain your health.

The truth is that the screenings, preventative care, and discussion about your gynecological concerns mean that regular visits to your OBGYN can help you stay ahead of your gynecological health. It’s important to get comfortable with your team for those instances when the truly pressing concerns do occur. The best way to do that is by scheduling regular visits.

Myth: I’m Getting Older, Of Course, I’m Not Interested in Sex

Too often, women’s sexual needs are written off as they age. It’s taken as fact that as women age, their sexual desire diminishes or goes away altogether. While a loss of sexual desire can be common for women – and you shouldn’t feel as if you’re unusual if you do experience diminished desire – it’s not always age-associated.

The truth is that loss of desire can stem from many sources, like depression, hypothyroidism, social influences, and even medication. If you’re concerned about your diminished desire, speak to your healthcare team, and they can help you determine the best course of action. There’s no typical amount of desire or sex you should be having at any age, so it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

Women’s Health Myths Debunked

Women’s Health Debunked

We know that it can be tempting to listen to all the myths you’ve heard over the years. From harmless ideas like “certain foods can help you get pregnant” to more serious myths like “no symptoms means no STI,” misconceptions can run the gamut from silly to dangerous. Instead of perpetuating these claims or worrying about your gynecological health, consider speaking to your healthcare provider.

Here at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we have an intimate knowledge of the women’s healthcare industry, and we aim to debunk and demystify the myths surrounding women’s health. We know how important it is that women have access to comprehensive healthcare throughout their lives, including gynecological care. We provide a safe, nurturing environment that employs clinically tested methods as well as new technology and innovative techniques.

Whether you’re ready to schedule your regular checkup or have a gynecological concern, look no further than Arizona Gynecology Consultants. Choose from one of our locations across Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa to schedule your office or telehealth visit today. Reach out to us and take your health into your own hands.

Resources :

  1. World Action on Salt and Health. (2010). Serbia: “Action on salt” to prevent heart attacks and strokes. https://www.worldactiononsalt.com/media/qmul12/processedextracted/wash/docs/news/2010/serbia_jun_10.pdf#page=12
  2. Gillespie, C., Kuklina, E. V., Briss, P. A., Blair, N. A., & Hong, Y. (2008). Prevalence of hypertension and controlled hypertension — United States, 2003–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(Suppl 3), 144-148. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889854507000861
  3. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm
  5. UpToDate. (n.d.). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): Beyond the basics. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/premenstrual-syndrome-pms-and-premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd-beyond-the-basics
  6. Pearlstein, T., & Steiner, M. (2014). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Burden of illness and treatment update. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 39(4), 291. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4184992/
  7. Sharma, V., & Sharma, P. (2020). Postpartum Depression: Diagnosis and Treatment. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/
  8. Moreland OB/GYN Associates, S.C. (n.d.). Gynecology myths. https://www.morelandobgyn.com/blog/gynecology-myths
  9. Oregon Health & Science University. (n.d.). Mythbusters. https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/mythbusters
  10. University of Utah Health. (n.d.). Patient education. https://healthcare.utah.edu/womens-health/patient-education
  11. Ochsner Health. (n.d.). Women’s health myths: 11 facts to know. https://blog.ochsner.org/articles/womens-health-myths-11-facts-to-know
Dispelling Birth Control Myths

Dispelling Birth Control Myths

This entry was posted in Birth Control and tagged on by .

Unfortunately, birth control myths circulate throughout the web. But, with the right information, you can make informed choices regarding contraceptive care.

Myth: There Are Few Methods of Birth Control, and Women Are Severely Restricted in Their Choices

While the responsibility to use birth control rests almost exclusively on women, we are fortunate in that there are many methods of birth control from which to choose. Each option works in different ways, and the method that works best for your lifestyle should be strongly factored into your choice.

Consider these popular options, all readily available from a healthcare provider:

  • Permanent Birth Control – There are surgical procedures available that will prevent a person who can ovulate from becoming pregnant, including tubal ligation or removal of the fallopian tubes.
  • Implant – A small rod is placed underneath the skin in your upper arm by a healthcare provider, where it dispenses hormones that prevent pregnancy.
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD) – A small, t-shaped device is placed into your uterus by a healthcare provider. Some dispense hormones, and some act as a physical deterrent to pregnancy.
  • The Shot – This is an injection of the hormone progestin that must be given by a medical professional.
  • Vaginal Ring – A flexible ring containing hormones is inserted into the vagina for three weeks at a time each month.
  • The Patch – A sticker-like patch is applied almost anywhere on the skin every week. It releases hormones via the skin.
  • The Pill – This is an oral medication taken at the same time each day that releases progesterone and estrogen to prevent pregnancy.
  • Emergency Contraception – This is an oral medication (sometimes a copper IUD) that can be administered up to five days following unprotected sex to prevent implantation.
  • Condom – Either polyurethane or latex, condoms are a physical barrier between the two partners.
  • Spermicide – These sperm-killing chemicals can come in the form of foams, film, or suppositories and can be placed in the vagina or used with a condom
  • Fertility Awareness – Also termed natural family planning, this occurs when a woman tracks her cycle and avoids sex during the period when she is most likely to conceive.
  • Pull-Out Method – This often-ineffective method involves removing the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation.

Choosing the birth control method or methods that will most easily fit into your routine requires research and a discussion with a healthcare provider.

Myth: Birth Control Will Cause Cancer

Though there is some truth behind this myth, the statement itself is misleading. Some studies suggest there is a potential link between birth control pills, specifically the triphasic pill, and an increased risk of cervical cancer and breast cancer. A 2017 study found a mild increase in the rates of breast cancer in women using oral contraceptives; however, this study could not control all other risk factors because it was a prospective study. The overall risk of breast cancer remains low. There is also evidence that hormonal birth control can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Dispelling Birth Control Myths

Myth: IUDs Are Unsafe to Use

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic or copper t-shaped object that is inserted by a healthcare professional into the uterus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg and to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. IUDs that contain hormones may also prevent ovulation. Either form is a safe and effective method of birth control that has a 99% success rate of preventing pregnancy. That means that for every 100 women that use an IUD, less than 1 of them will get pregnant each year.

This myth likely arises from several high-profile cases of pelvic infection and subsequent infertility that resulted from the strings of one type of IUD. These issues occurred 30 years ago. Fortunately, in response, modern devices were created to eliminate the risk of infection, and this myth is no longer true.

Myth: Birth Control Pills Cause Birth Defects in Babies

Birth control pills are highly effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as directed. However, they are not 100% effective. This means that pregnancy may occur for teen girls and women even if the pill’s instructions are followed. If a pregnancy does occur, the birth control pill will not harm the growing fetus.

There was previously some concern about other medications that used progesterone, but these claims have never been substantiated by scientific studies. Taking birth control while pregnant is not recommended, but no harm will come to the fetus if you continue taking the pills. Even if it takes weeks or months for you to notice a pregnancy while taking birth control pills, the fetus will not be affected.

Myth: Birth Control Means Using a Hormonal Method

People frequently assume that birth control means hormonal forms of pregnancy prevention. There are many hormonal methods of birth control, including pills, implants, patches, and the hormonal IUD. Still, for some people, hormonal birth control methods are not possible because they will not or cannot use them. Fortunately, these are not the only methods available.

Though many of the commonly known methods are hormonal, there are multiple options to choose from if you are attempting to avoid a hormonal route. Some of these routes are equally as successful at preventing pregnancy as hormonal birth control. The copper IUD contains no hormones but remains 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, a rate even more effective than the hormonal birth control pill. Condoms are non-hormonal and aid in STD prevention.

Fertility planning is another method of non-hormonal birth control. The woman keeps track of their menstrual cycle and avoids sex during her most fertile days to prevent pregnancy. If you have recently given birth and choose to breastfeed, this can be a viable option for birth control as it has a high success rate under some circumstances.

Myth: Birth Control Pills Are Unsafe Because They Cause Blood Clots

A serious side effect associated with birth control pills is an increased risk of thrombotic complications like myocardial infarction, stroke, and venous thromboembolism (VTE). This side effect is more commonly known as a blood clot in the heart, limbs, brain, and groin. The potential risk factor increases for women that are in midlife, those who smoke, and those who have a risk of heart disease.

These side effects can be life-altering or even deadly. However, the risk of blood clots with birth control is low. It is true that the risk can be higher for women that take the pill, but the increase is only marginal. To fully understand the increase, consider that the risk of a blood clot while taking the pill is lower than the risk during pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum—just one in 3,000.

Myth: You Should Not Consider an IUD if You Have Not Already Had Children

IUDs are extremely successful at preventing pregnancy, with over a 99% success rate. Better yet, they offer long-term pregnancy prevention. For these reasons, IUDs should be included in any birth control conversation that you have with your gynecologist. This myth arose because a woman’s cervix and uterus will be slightly larger after giving birth, so IUD implantation and use may be more comfortable after childbirth. This is an old myth, IUDs are safe and effective even if you have not had any children.

Myth: All Birth Control Pills Work the Same

Myth: All Birth Control Pills Work the Same

There are two distinct types of birth control pills: progesterone-only pills and combination estrogen and progesterone pills.

Progesterone-only pills are known as the mini pill. Progesterone alters the lining of the uterus, so it is less favorable for embryo implantation and changes the cervical mucus so sperm cannot move as easily to the egg. These are most frequently prescribed to breastfeeding mothers because they are at a higher risk for stroke but can be given to almost any woman. This type of pill may simply be a personal preference for some women.

Combination estrogen and progesterone pills contain both hormones. This difference in the amount of progesterone is what can cause the various side effects, so a doctor may need to adjust the dose to ensure a positive experience with the medication. Estrogen results in the suppression of luteinizing hormone (LH), which signals the ovaries to release eggs. Therefore, a reduction in LH will prevent eggs from progressing to the uterus, where they would be fertilized. The effects of progesterone on the cervical mucus, endometrium, and motility are also included with the combination pill. Recent alterations to the pills have also included shorter placebo intervals and longer periods of hormones so the woman can experience fewer menstrual periods.

Myth: Birth Control Increases the Risk of Stroke

There are some risks involved with taking hormonal birth control, but they are not blanket risks and will not apply to everyone. There are specific risk factors that can make a stroke more likely to develop from birth control use.

These risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Certain types of migraines
  • Smoking over the age of 35
  • A history of cardiovascular disease

There are avenues that can be taken to mitigate these risks, like using non-hormonal birth control or birth control that does not contain estrogen. Choosing the best birth control method for you should involve your own research and a conversation with a medical professional. However, it is important to note that the risks associated with pregnancy could be higher than the risks associated with birth control. The United States’ maternal mortality rate is increasing, making it one of the few countries where it is currently more dangerous to go through a pregnancy and childbirth than it was generations ago.

Myth: Birth Control Can Affect Your Fertility Even After You Stop Using It

Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year of having sex without a contraceptive or barrier. The timeline might be shortened to six months if the woman is 35 years or older. Birth control does not cause infertility, but when the birth control method is stopped, the effects may stop immediately or diminish over time as the hormones leave your system. The exact timeline of your fertility return will depend on the individual and the type of birth control used. Fertility can return immediately, but it could take a few months for fertility to return as the body removes the birth control hormones.

This myth arose because of birth control’s questionable history. Studies were fraught with both a lack of consent and a lack of full disclosure. The hushed side effects and lack of informed consent made women wary of birth control, even more so in 1974 after the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device did cause infertility. Fortunately, contraception has become much safer and no longer has permanent effects on fertility.

Even if you chose a permanent form of birth control, like tubal ligation, you could still become pregnant. The uterus and ovaries are left intact, but the route an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus is broken. Therefore, IVF is a remaining option for you to carry a child that is biologically yours.

Myth: The Only Purpose of Birth Control Is Pregnancy Prevention

The primary purpose of birth control is to prevent pregnancy, but there are other uses. Women with heavy or painful periods can take hormonal birth control to help prevent excessive or long-term bleeding. Birth control methods like the pill, shot, patch, implant, and hormonal IUD can all cause shorter, lighter periods. They can also regulate menstrual cycles or even eliminate bleeding altogether, depending on the individual and type of birth control.

In this way, birth control can also improve some symptoms related to:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Menstrual migraines
  • Hormonal acne
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Myth: Your Body Needs to Take a Break From Birth Control

Almost all types of birth control are safe to use continuously for as long as you choose. Birth control is essentially putting your menstrual cycle on a temporary pause. Choosing to begin pregnancy attempts is the only reason to take a break from birth control.

The only exception to this rule is the Depo-Provera injection. Because it has been linked to bone mineral loss, it is only recommended to be used continuously for two years. However, if you have concerns about the length of time that you will be or have been on birth control, you should have a conversation with a healthcare professional about more permanent forms of birth control, like tubal ligation.

Understanding Birth Control Myth vs Fact

Understanding Birth Control

Birth control has existed for decades, and many untrue myths have been in existence ever since. Though there may have been some truth to these myths when birth control was first developed, multiple advancements have been made that make birth control a safe and effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Hormonal or non-hormonal, pills or implants, temporary or permanent—with a variety of options, there is a choice that is best for you and your lifestyle.

Using the latest methods and techniques, we establish a specialized plan for patients. With extensive knowledge of women’s health care, our doctors, surgeons and clinical specialists are ready to discuss any questions related to our gynecology services in Phoenix.